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A newbie executive’s brouhaha in business class

Posted April. 23, 2013 06:48,   


People refer an overseas business trip as “eating an in-flight meal.” The quality of in-flight meals is different depending on your seats – economy, business, and first-class. The meals and beverages for business and first-class customers are as good as those of hotels. Customers can drink wine or whisky as much as they want. Some airlines offer bibimbap, noodles, and ramen especially for Koreans. Moreover, flight attendants provide a more careful service by almost kneeling down to take orders in order to meet the eyes of customers on the same level.

Park Yeon-cha, former chairman of Taekwang Industrial who sponsored former President Roh Moo-hyun, took a business class of Korean Air plane departing from Busan to Seoul in December 2007. He ignored the female flight attendant’s request to put his seat in an upright position five times before take-off. He spit out swear words and said, “You know who I am!” He ignored in-flight announcements and tore apart a letter of warning. The airline staff sent him to police. The court ruled him a fine of 10 million won (8,920 U.S. dollars). It was because of drinking he had until the wee hours.

A newly appointed executive of POSCO Energy who took a business class seat in a Korean Air plane departing from Incheon to Los Angeles on Monday last week complained about bibimbap for less cooked rice and asked for ramen. Then, he rejected ramen for being too salty or less cooked. He even slapped the female flight attendant’s face with a magazine in the galley. Upon arriving at the airport in Los Angeles, he was investigated by the FBI and forced to return to Korea because the pilot reported to police. He probably did not know that flight attendants and pilots are police on board.

The executive who made a fuss on board was dismissed yesterday. The POSCO Group’s image has been tarnished despite its social contribution efforts to change its image from unfriendly steelmaker to a friendly company. The ramen company asked Korean Air to confirm what ramen he ordered. Ramen served on board is part of special service. He must have been gone overboard because he was too pampered by extreme services in a business class seat after being recently promoted to an executive. It is too much, however, for Internet users to unveil every single detail of the former executive and release a daily log of the flight attendant.

Editorial Writer Choi Yeong-hae (yhchoi65@donga.com)